Brainstorming activities can be a useful approach to take for generating and developing scenario ideas. It encourages participants, in pairs or groups, to make large numbers of suggestions with no restrictions on the extent to which creativity and imagination can be applied. These suggestions can then be collated, combined, expanded, refined and prioritised as appropriate.
A useful brainstorming technique involves the use of Post-It Notes. It may be that at the outset of the session some topics have already emerged and been recognised as a result of any initial environmental analysis – these can be identified on Post-Its using a different colour marker pen perhaps.
Participants in the exercise use the Post-It Notes to write down additional ideas. The Post-Its can be used to complement or develop issues and ideas. Participants stick the notes on the wall – randomly at first – and then moved and grouped together as the exercise plays out.
Post-Its are ideal for this type of exercise as they can be easily and regularly moved without losing their ability to stick. In order to ensure a successful exercise it is vital that participants feel comfortable about sharing ideas and making themselves heard in the group.
This technique is ideal for those who have not encountered scenario planning before as it offers the opportunity to become actively involved very quickly.
Brainwriting is a similar technique to brainstorming. Participants work in small groups of up to three people. Questions are posed and individuals generate as many answers as possible. The answers are then passed on to the next person who uses them as a trigger for their own ideas. You can use plain paper or flip charts on the wall to collect the answers, with each sheet or chart collecting answers for a different question.
The activity consists of rounds:
- Round one involves the first brainwriting activity (maximum of 5 minutes)
- Round two onwards involves the passing on of ideas to others as triggers for further ideas and answers. These rounds should last approximately one-three minutes each and this stage should take a maximum of 30 minutes
- The penultimate round does not involve writing, instead it involves connecting the ideas and putting question marks next to those suggestions that are not understood
- The final round is a question and answer session based on the ideas generated (maximum of 30 minutes).